National Trust Goes Green

4 minutes read

Heritage organisation to invest £3.5 million in clean energy

The National Trust has come up with an ambitious plan to provide clean energy to forty-three historic properties in partnership with green electricity supplier Good Energy. The 2013/14 pilot project sees five heritage sites receive £3.5 million to install various green improvements including hydropower, biomass and heat pumps.

The overall objective – if the pilot projects are successful – is for the National Trust to generate half of their energy from renewables by 2020 with a consequent 50% reduction in fossil fuel consumption. The project is expected to be part-funded by some of the trust’s four million members signing up for renewable electricity and gas with energy partner, Good Energy. The company will pay them £40 per year for each new customer signing up to its dual fuel tariff via the National Trust.

If five per cent of their members did this it would raise £3.8 million for investment in low carbon historic properties and see 95,000 households powered by clean, green renewably sourced electricity.

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at National Trust, says, “Through our work we show that renewable technologies can be made to work in some of the country’s most sensitive landscapes and historic environments.

“Like householders everywhere we are facing rising energy bills. We spend more than £6 million each year heating and powering the places in our care.

“By investing in renewable energy production we can reduce our energy bills and invest more in vital conservation work around the country. It will put renewable energy at the heart of conservation.”

National Trust Energy Usage

They spend nearly £6 million a year to heat and power their holdings – 300 major historic houses, plus office buildings, visitor centres and 360 holiday cottages – and without action they forecast that rising oil and gas prices would take this to £7.5 million by 2020.

However, the renewables investment programme is expected to reduce operational energy costs by £4.3 million from 2019 and provide an expected 10 per cent return on investment, thanks to lower fuel costs and schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.

Plas Newydd on Anglesey; Photo: Julian Jackson
Plas Newydd on Anglesey; photo: Julian Jackson

Their five pilot projects this year will trial a multi-site approach and prove business models:

  • Plas Newydd – 300kW marine source heat pump, providing 100% of property’s heat requirements
  • Croft Castle – 150kW biomass boiler, supplying 74% of property’s heating needs
  • Ickworth – 300kW biomass boiler, supplying 100% of estate’s heating needs
  • Craflwyn – more than 100kW hydro-generation, which will be sold back to the grid
  • Stickle Ghyll – 90kW hydro-electric project providing 30% of property’s energy needs

If the trial phase is deemed successful, they will plan 38 further schemes tailored to individual properties and selected according to strict criteria.

Patrick Begg continues, “Projects must offer strong financial returns, build energy independence and energy security, but also respect properties’ settings and historical significance, and improve conservation, wherever possible.”

The National Trust have been making steady progress pioneering the use of renewable technologies across the places they manage and conserve.

Over the last decade more than 150 schemes have been installed using a wide range of technologies: wood (biomass), solar electricity and hot water, small-scale wind, hydro-electric, and heat pumps.

Following the development of these projects, there is now widespread recognition of the value and impact which renewables initiatives can bring to local National Trust properties.

This investment programme is part of a move to invest beyond small impact renewables towards larger-scale initiatives, which can make a greater contribution towards meeting local and national goals, as well as generating income for the Trust.

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